SC asked to restore penal provisions of RH law

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 30 2014 01:27 PM | Updated as of May 01 2014 07:46 PM

MANILA - A motion for reconsideration (MR) has been filed with the Supreme Court (SC) that urges the restoration of the penal provisions of the Reproductive Health (RH) Law.

In their MR filed on Monday, the Filipino Catholic Voices for Reproductive Health (C4RH), Inc. and Interfaith Partnership for the Promotion of Responsible Parenthood (IPPRP) stressed that the penal provisions of the law, that have been stricken down as unconstitutional, are needed "for the full and effective implementation and compliance of the RH Law" and to serve as a deterrent to the commission of reproductive health rights violations.

“If the penalties are there, all healthcare service providers and government officials have to do is to comply and they would not be criminally liable.

"The penal provisions should be maintained in light of women's and adolescent girl's realities such a violence against women and adolescent girls, reproductive rights violations on women's and adolescent girls,” the MR read.

Last April 8, the high court declared unconstitutional eight provisions under Sections 7, 17 and 23, and Section 3 of the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for "violating religious freedom and the integrity of marriage."

The other provisions of the law that need to be restored, according to the group, include the guarantees for the availment of reproductive health services of minors and women, where minor parents or minors who have suffered a miscarriage, and married women not in emergency situations may avail of these services and reproductive health supplies even without the consent of parents and spouses.

In their MR, the group said that requiring spousal consent is discriminatory to women, and violative of women's rights.

“Allowing healthcare service providers to conscientiously object, refuse to refer and refuse to perform certain procedures without spousal and parental consent in non-emergency and non-life-threatening situations is dangerous because it grants a license to a group of people to blatantly violate women’s human rights in the name of freedom of religion,” the MR read.

Requiring parental consent for minors, meantime, will prevent the needed access of minors to reproductive heath services, the group said.

“[R]equiring parental consent restricts adolescents their access to contraceptives and violates the reproductive rights of adolescents. In reality, adolescents are already engaging in sex, many engage in risky sexual behavior by not using any contraceptive method leading to unintended pregnancies and STIs, RTIS, and HIV transmission,” the MR read.

The motion will be tackled by the high court when it resumes en banc sessions, from its decision-writing break, on June 2.